Elizabeth Ann Hurley, 46; Coordinator at Newseum

Friday, May 16, 2008

Elizabeth Ann Hurley, 46, programs coordinator at the Newseum and a former USA Today editor, died of breast cancer April 29 at her home in Falls Church.

Ms. Hurley was born in Boston and grew up in Dayton, Ohio. She graduated from the University of Dayton in 1982. She worked on the copy desks of the Dayton Daily News and the Cincinnati Enquirer before joining USA Today in 1986 to work on the newspaper's international edition.

She also worked in USA Today's Money and News sections and rose to the position of night national editor, where she assigned and edited coverage of late-breaking news, including the 1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800.

She left the newspaper in 1998 to spend more time with her three children and expand her freelance editing and teaching business. Her clients included the original Newseum, Mathematica Policy Research and the Academy for Educational Development.

Ms. Hurley rejoined the Newseum staff in 2004, producing and staging programs in cooperation with the National Press Club, Smithsonian Associates, National Archives and American University. Her numerous programs included a five-part series on First Amendment rights, "An Evening with Dick Gregory," a history of newsreels and a panel discussion on the rise of bloggers. Many of the programs aired on C-SPAN.

Her most recent projects were helping to update the teachers' guide to the Newseum and the media ethics curriculum, which included an examination of the coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. Despite her illness, she continued working until six days before the Newseum's April 11 reopening.

A Girl Scout while growing up, Ms. Hurley led Brownie and Junior troops as an adult. She also had a leadership role at the Ashgrove Adventure summer camp in Oakton, where she jokingly gave herself the nickname Grendel, after one of the antagonists in the epic poem Beowulf.

She also volunteered at her children's schools, the American Red Cross, Howard University Hospital, local food banks and her church, the Pax Community in McLean.

Ms. Hurley, who struggled with cancer for nine years, refused to be labeled a cancer patient, said her husband, Mike Brehm of Falls Church. She walked 60 miles in the 2000 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, six months after completing her initial rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. She walked in the National Race for the Cure last year, seven months after having major back surgery. An avid hiker, she used a trekking pole as a cane when her legs became weak.

She did not allow her illness to deter her from helping others, Brehm said. "On her way to her weekly chemotherapy, she brought food to a church member who had recent surgery," he said.

In addition to her husband of 20 years, survivors include three children, Hannah Brehm, Matthew Brehm and Rebecca Brehm, all of Falls Church; her mother, Margaret of Grants Pass, Ore.; three brothers; and a sister.

-- Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb

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